There came the point in time when my daughter was younger that I decided I had enough energy to put up with the resistance and take her off the bottles completely. This doesn’t sound like it should be a challenge but it was for me. We had sippy cups, and she would drink everything out of them except milk. No matter what type of cup I bought, let her pick out, or style of sippy cup I tried she just wouldn’t drink milk out of it. It ended up being relatively easy to get her off the bottles. It only took a few weeks of arguments and constant battles, but she finally gave up asking for the bottle and I was able to put them away for good. The down side, she stopped drinking milk completely no matter what I tried. She doesn’t eat cheese either so I worried about her not getting enough calcium. She’d easily have substituted ice cream but that wasn’t an option I was open too.
One day she was at our neighbor’s house, and Judy gave her a drinkable yogurt. She loved it! Great, right? Maybe, maybe not. I started buying the drinkable yogurts and stopped worrying about her getting calcium. The problem was she would drink about six of them a day if I let her. They are not cheap and worse the amount of sugar in even the organic versions is more than 20 grams for each little bottle. After a few weeks of store-bought drinkables I knew I needed to find a better solution. Enter the yogurt maker.
I had read an article somewhere in the past about making your own yogurt so I started out shopping around for a yogurt maker. I chose a model by Aroma that made eight individual cups and have been very happy with it. Especially when I wore out the buttons on the original one we purchased and their customer service was easy to work with and sent me out a replacement right away.
I usually make a batch every other day and it couldn’t be simpler. I start it just before the daily chore of emptying the dishwasher each morning and by the time the last dish is put away the yogurt making is done. I start by pouring 4 cups milk in the pot along with 1/4 cup maple syrup and a couple tablespoons milk powder. The milk powder isn’t necessary but will help make a thicker yogurt. This mixture of milk and syrup is heated to 115 to 120 F. Once it is up to temp, I add a couple tablespoons yogurt with active cultures (either store bought or one of our own). Mix it together and pour it into the individual cups. I set the yogurt maker for 10 hours and I’m done. Ten hours later the yogurt maker will beep to let you know it is ready and into the refrigerator they go. Simple!
The nice thing is you can control what’s in the yogurt. You can use any milk, whole, 2% or skim based on your preference. I use whole milk, which is a bonus for me because most store-bought yogurt is low fat. You can use whatever you choose for sweetener as well: sugar, honey, maple syrup or even none at all. For a fruit yogurt, you can add jam to 1 cup plain or presweetened yogurt. Plain unsweetened yogurt also makes a good alternative to sour cream.
There are a number of yogurt makers on the market, and I have read of people who use a slow cooker or even just an insulated cooler. For me the yogurt maker worked best and was a fairly inexpensive item to purchase. I now have fresh whole milk yogurt with a fraction of the sugar and hardly any waste each month (one or maybe two store-bought containers to use as starter), add to that the money I save on the grocery budget and it is a win-win in my book.